When performing the Air Boost, the user surrounds himself in a blue/yellow energy shield and propels himself forward at speeds beyond the sound barrier, thereby turning him into a highly destructive midair projectile. This moves not only enables its user to plow through midair enemies, but also to move immense distances through midair in semi-flight.
In gameplay, the Air Boost is both an offensive maneuver for Sonic and Shadow and a method to traverse the environment, allowing the player to move across gabs or reach midair objects and gimmicks. However, it is rather reckless to use as the user does not immediately stop moving when landing from an Air Boost, which brings the player at risk at moving into unwanted areas, like hazardous obstacles or bottomless pits. Additionally, the player can only perform the Air Boost once for every ascension into midair, meaning the player cannot boost again until they land on the ground, and if there is energy in the game's respective gauges to power the Air Boost.
The Air Boost's first appearance was in both versions of Sonic Unleashed. In the PlayStation 2/Wii version, the player can perform it anytime, while in the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 version, the player must have obtained the Air Boost Shoes before being able to use it. In this game, Air Boost's range is very high, and using it on the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 creates a brief distortion.
To use it in gameplay, the player has to press the following buttons when in midair while there is energy in the Boost Gauge:
Wii (Classic Controller)
Wii (GameCube Controller)
Shake Wii remote
In both versions of Sonic Colors, the Air Boost retains its range from Sonic Unleashed, but Sonic is instead surrounded by a multicolored aura. In the Wii version, the Air Boost can be used continuously, but on the Nintendo DS version it cannot. To use it in gameplay, the player has to press or hold (to maintain the boost more in the air) the following buttons when in midair while there is energy in the Wisp/Boost Gauge:
Wii Remote + Nunchunk
Wii Remote Sideways
Wii (Classic Controller)
Wii (GameCube Controller)
In the console/PC version of Sonic Generations, the Air Boost has the same appearance and distortion effect as in Sonic Unleashed when performed, but its range is shorter and not recommended to use on far-away enemies as it is less controllable. To use it in gameplay, the player must press / when in midair while there is energy in the Boost Gauge, though it depletes approximately 20% of the Boost Gauge when used. Super Sonic can use the Air Boost without depleting the Boost Gauge, though it will increase the Ring consumption.
In the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations, the Air Boost's range can be extended as long as is hold. This makes it possible to crush enemies in the way of Sonic while he is using the move until he lands on the ground. Also, upon landing, he can continue using it there as the Boost.
In the game's storyline, Modern Sonic used this technique to catch the red Chaos Emerald in midair, which left Classic Sonic thoroughly impressed. At the end of the game, Classic Sonic wanted to show his future self that he had learned the Air Boost. Though he could not fully pull it off, Modern Sonic still praised him and promised he would only get better.
In Sonic Forces, the Air Boost is one of Sonic the Hedgehog's moves, and Shadow the Hedgehog's moves as well in his Episode Shadow DLC. In this game, it retains its distortion effect while in use, but the move's range and functionality is changed considerably. When the player triggers the Air Boost, Sonic/Shadow will dash a little ahead before heading toward the ground. During this process, Sonic/Shadow is surrounded by a blue/yellow fiery aura while leaving a blue/yellow trail to the ground. This way, they can maintain the Air Boost until they touch the ground, and continue using it there as the Boost. To perform the Air Boost in gameplay, the player must press // in mid-air while there is energy in the Boost Gauge.
The Mid-Air Dash, also called the Fireball Spin Dash, is variant of the Jump Dash that first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This move can only be performed with Sonic whilst in possession of the Flame Shield. When performing it, the user spears ahead like a comet that can destroy breakable objects and damage enemies. At the same time, the Flame Shield gives immunity to fire-based attacks.
In the opening scene of Sonic's Episode in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic is seen with a midair aura around him when he was fighting Eggman's robots. It is unknown if this is the Air Boost or just a vapor cone.
If the player uses Super Sonic in Sonic Generations, then turns back and performs the Air Boost, it will make Super Sonic dash in the air, but forward on the path instead of backwards.
In Sonic Colors, it is possible to get an Item Box without touching it by Air Boosting at the platform it is standing on.